Stuart Greenbaum: The Final Hour

John Stanton, Luke Howard, Leonard Grigoryan

Stuart Greenbaum: The Final Hour
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Stuart Greenbaum: The Final Hour

John Stanton, Luke Howard, Leonard Grigoryan

Six years in the making, drawing on the sublime talents of 16 of Australia’s finest jazz and classical musicians, Stuart Greenbaum’s concept album, The Final Hour arrives. It is Greenbaum’s 8th solo album, recorded in high definition at 96k/24b and mastered at 96/32.

Co-produced with Melbourne composer-pianist Luke Howard, The Final Hour combines the western classical tradition with jazz, pop, electronica, sonic arts and minimalism to create a contemporary commentary on life and how we value time.

In the tradition of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene and Pat Metheny Group’s The Way Up, Greenbaum’s The Final Hour is a work for the ages.

This studio album has been crafted around an original text by Ross Baglin, with narration by John Stanton. Greenbaum writes: ‘I wanted to create a commentary about the perception of the passing of time in our modern new-millennial lives. Of how we value it. An hour of time (not just the final hour) and by extension, the duration of a life.’

The Final Hour
, as its title suggests, is precisely 60 minutes long (to the nanosecond). Oboe, saxophone and strings merge with analogue and digital synthesizers, keyboards, guitars, bass, drums and percussion. Poetry, trains and office soundscapes weave in and out of a mesmerizing, soulful musical narrative constructed in arch form around the Fibonacci series.

Stuart Greenbaum holds a position at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (The University of Melbourne) as Professor and Head of Composition. He is the author of over 200 works including 15 sonatas, 5 piano trios, 7 string quartets, 5 concertos, 3 symphonies and 2 operas.

Review

What would you do in your final hour? If you had but one hour left, how would you express yourself? Through words, music, art? Stuart Greenbaum posits this question with his latest album, a musing on a concept of the passing of time. He talks in the notes about how the idea of a ‘concept album’ has always drawn his interest, from Pink Floyd to Pat Metheny. I think this one should join those lofty halls of fame, as this is a fascinating meld of all that is good from classical, jazz, contemporary music and more.

Melbourne musicians, including fellow composer Barry Cockcroft on Saxophone, join with the Australian National Academy of Music Strings showing that Australian musicians can create some of the most precise and brilliant contemporary music around. The words were created by a long-time collaborator of Greenbaum’s, Ross Baglin. This poetry is expressively murmured by Australian actor John Stanton, which creates a triangle between the words, music and rhythm section.

Clearly a labour of love, this album is beautiful, evocative, interesting and the perfect accompaniment to an hour of meditating on the meaning of life, music and everything. I am looking forward to my second, third and fourth times listening to and absorbing this album.


Kate Rockstrom is a friend of Readings.

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